CONYERS -- A Newton County man who was wanted in connection with a Friday holdup in the Conyers Walmart parking lot surrendered to authorities Monday afternoon at the Rockdale County Jail.
The Conyers Police Department has charged Joseph Williams, 32, of 130 Thrasher Drive, with aggravated assault, armed robbery and fleeing and attempting to elude in connection with the robbery of a Covington woman in the parking lot of Walmart shortly before midnight Friday.
Williams eluded police in a brief chase shortly after the robbery, but authorities were able to get a tag number from the suspect's car. Through the tag number police identified the suspect and went to his home in Newton County where, with assistance from the Newton County S.W.A.T. team, they were able to search the house and suspect's car and recovered enough evidence to take warrants against him.
According to Lt. Jackie Dunn, the 24-year-old victim told police that as she went into Walmart to shop she noticed the suspect loitering outside in the parking lot. When the victim came out of the store, she noticed the same man still loitering in the parking lot near the buggy corral. Dunn said the woman put her groceries in her truck and instead of putting her buggy in the corral, she pushed it into the space in front of her truck.
"When she turned around he had come around the back of her vehicle," Dunn said.
Williams allegedly held up the woman with a small automatic handgun, took her purse, and fled in a newer model black Camaro.
Dunn said a witness in the parking lot attempted to pursue the Camaro and get a tag number, but he was unsuccessful. However, the witness did get a good description of the suspect's car.
Police officers spotted the car at the gas pumps at the Shell station on West Avenue a short time later, which led to the brief chase with police.
Once officers had the suspect's identification, they set up surveillance at his house in Newton County.
"After an hour of not observing anything (happening), we decided to approach the house, and investigators confirmed that that was the residence that the vehicle came back to," Dunn said.
Dunn said there was another man at the house who initially would not come to the door when police identified themselves.
"He did eventually come out, but we still used S.W.A.T. to make entry because we didn't know if the suspect was inside or not," Dunn said.
Dunn said the woman was not injured in the hold-up. The suspect got away with the woman's purse, which contained a small amount of cash. He said some of her personal property was recovered from the suspect's car. The gun used in the robbery has not been recovered, he said.
Dunn also said that portions of the incident were captured on surveillance video in the Walmart parking lot.
In an unrelated incident, a black male dressed in a ninja costume and wearing a ninja mask held up The Oaks Family Diner on Flat Shoals Road Monday.
According to Dunn, the suspect came into the diner at about 6:30 a.m., brandished a silver-colored plastic sword in a threatening manner and yelled, "Give me the money!"
The suspect reportedly ran behind the counter, pushed down the cook and took down some Christmas stockings that were being used to collect money.
The incident report did not indicate how much money was in the stockings or for what purpose the money was being collected. The manager at The Oaks said she could not give out any information other than what was given to police.
The suspect fled on foot. He was described as 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and believed to be in his early 20s.